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Sydney FC cut marquee Filip Holosko from Asian Champions League squad

Omitted: Filip Holosko has been carrying a niggling hamstring injury. Photo: Daniel KaliszSydney FC’s marquee striker Filip Holosko will play no part in the Sky Blues’ Asian Champions League campaign after being one of two foreigners omitted from their squad.

ACL regulations permit just three non-Asian foreigners per 25-man squad, leaving Graham Arnold with the dilemma of having to trim two of the club’s five foreigners. Defender Jacques Faty is the other to miss out.

Slovakian international Holosko was left out due to concerns over his fitness and ability to handle the extensive travel on top of continuing to improve his form in the A-League. Despite being the only foreigner on Sydney’s books with experience of playing in Asia, Faty was similarly spared from the travel for physical and conditioning reasons.

“They understand that it’s a difficult decision and one we have made with the ambition of winning both competitions.  It’s been explained to them clearly that they aren’t being dropped or disrespected,” Arnold said.

With the club languishing in sixth place on the A-League table and in danger of missing the finals series, returning to domestic form remains a priority for the club. Sydney’s million-dollar man is said to have preferred domestic success in favour of the travel which may also boost his chances for a recall to the Slovakian national team for Euro 2016 in June.

“Filip has struggled getting used to the hard pitches in the A-League this season having come from Europe and has been nursing a niggling hamstring injury all campaign,” Arnold said. “He wants to concentrate on the A-League season and get used to playing on the hard pitches.  After speaking with him we both felt that he would be best served saving himself for the A-League and avoiding the long travel which could put his whole season in jeopardy.”

Despite the absence of his star, Holosko, Arnold feels there is still sufficient fire-power in the attacking third to challenge in Asia.

“We brought in David Carney which provides us with ample cover on the flank, and we still have Christopher Naumoff, Andrew Hoole and George Blackwood who can play there as well,” he said.

Sydney FC face the biggest fortnight of football in their history beginning with Saturday night’s derby match against Western Sydney Wanderers. Just four days later, the Sky Blues will play their first Asian Champions League match in five years on Wednesday,February 24 when they travel to Japan to face former Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds.

They return to Melbourne to face the champions, Victory, before a home match against big spending Asian champions Guangzhou Evergrande and then an away fixture against Melbourne City on March 5.

“It’s a huge statement for Sydney FC to be one of only two Australian clubs to be competing in it and I’m looking forward to the challenge of coaching in the tournament for the third time,” Arnold said.

J-League giants Urawa were a group opponent of Sydney FC in their inaugural ACL campaign in 2007, narrowly pipping the Sky Blues to pole position and progression to the second round.

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